Rob Lowe is dishing, again. Three years after the publication of his surprisingly engaging memoir, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, the former Brat Packer-turned-TV veteran has penned Love Life, a collection of essay-type ruminations that are a mix of the surreal and the serious.
Married for 22-plus years (light years, by Hollywood standards)—wife Sheryl was a make-up artist on one of his films—and the father of two strapping sons, Lowe vividly depicts what it was like to be a 19-year-old Hollywood heartthrob at a Super Bowl soiree held at the Playboy Mansion. There’s Hef, making the rounds in his silk p.j.’s, a can of Coca-Cola in hand. And a den of Bunnies—bored Bunnies—one of whom drags Lowe off into the guest room. He recounts a conversation with a fellow who says he does all the work “up here.” So, says Lowe, you take care of the property? Nope. The guy takes care of the plastic surgery for Playboy. Later, Lowe takes a dip in the legendary Grotto—and has an encounter that leaves him feeling sheepish. Driving home that night, he realizes he didn’t even find out who won the darned game.
He can be clever. Looking back on St. Elmo’s Fire, he attributes the film’s success to “the invention of hair mousse.” Riffing on rivalries between the kids from Malibu (where the teenage Lowe lived) and the blue collar “Kooks” from the Valley, Lowe says it was like a square-off between the kids of Hunter S. Thompson and those of Tom Joad.
Lowe also provides an eye-opening one-day “class” on filmmaking—which he breaks down by hours and minutes into two and a half pages. (Once the cameras roll at the location shoot, a dog starts barking, preventing any sound recording. Fifteen minutes later, the dog’s owner has been paid $500—to lock his animal in the garage.)
An actor who loves to work, and loves the process, Lowe tells all (with a grin) about the masters of “prop acting” (those performers who love to carry/fiddle around with an object), the art of eating during a scene (James Gandolfini was a master; Danny Glover’s pretty good, too), and how he personally benefited from his work with acting coach Roy London. Know what a “monkey trick” is? Lowe explains, and details his own.
As in the best celebrity memoirs and musings, Love Life is sprinkled with star power. Looking back on a failed TV series called “Dr. Vegas,” Lowe recalls that after being let go, co-star Amy Adams went on to star in Junebug, the movie that put her on the A-list map. “Sometimes you have to get fired to be hired,” he explains.
Here and there Lowe briefly returns to topics covered in his first book, such as his sobriety. But much of the material is fresh—some of it pensive, some of it goofily entertaining. There’s the weirdness of having to shoot additional episodes of a cancelled TV series (NBC’s “The Lyon’s Den”), for the DVD/foreign market. Or the night he and a TV cutie went to the home of his idol, Warren Beatty, and sat with him in his screening room watching Burt Reynolds (!) movies. Beatty went oooh and aaah, and said things like, “Very interesting. He’s using a lot of long lenses.” Afterward they ate ice cream in the kitchen, and the always-smooth Beatty likened Lowe’s date to his former flame, the gorgeous Natalie Wood.
Lowe’s pretty smooth, too. An actor who prides himself on his industry longevity and his ability to go from character actor (a four-year stint on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) to leading man (starring as JFK in the National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Kennedy”), he spills secrets and private thoughts with eloquence, rather than meanness. No wonder he’s proven himself to be an industry survivor.